LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Roberto Nelson scored 20 points and Eric Moreland posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, but Oregon State lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament to Colorado, 74-68, Wednesday afternoon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The Beavers (14-18, 4-14 Pac-12) battled back from a seven-point first-half deficit to take a 26-25 lead on a three-pointer by Victor Robbins. But Colorado (21-10, 10-8) scored five unanswered points to close the half, including a three-point heave by Spencer Dinwiddie from half court, to take a 30-26 lead at the break.
Oregon State got back in the game when Eric Moreland made a layup to make it 38-37 at the 13:24 mark before the Buffaloes went on a 15-5 run over the next seven minutes and 21 seconds to lead 53-42.The Beavers got as close as 72-68 with seconds to play, but Dinwiddie made two free throws to seal the victory.
Colorado out-rebounded the Beavers 43-30, including 17 on the offensive end, and scored 18 second-chance points.
“I think the real thing that had hurt us were the second-chance points and offensive rebounds,” Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson said. “We played them at their place and we did a great job on the boards. We did not do as good of a job this time around. Yet, having said that, we were right there even with the mistakes we made.”
It was the second time the teams played each other in five days, as Oregon State knocked off the Buffs for the first time ever in Boulder, 64-58, this past Saturday. Andre Roberson, the nation’s leading rebounder, didn’t play in that game, but he returned for the Pac-12 Tournament and contributed 12 points and seven rebounds.
“Having them come into our building and beat us on senior day got these guys’ attention,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “We have respect for Oregon State. They have talented basketball players. I don’t know what’s missing but their record is not reflective of their talent.”
Moreland recorded his 12th double-double of the season and 15th in his career with 14 points and 13 boards. He also had five blocked shots to break his own Oregon State single-season record with 73 after swatting 69 last season.
Nelson reached the 20-point mark for the 12th time this season and extended his streak of scoring in double figures to 17. Devon Collier also scored in double figures with 13 points and tied a career high with three steals. Robbins added a career-high eight points.
“While it didn’t look like it this season, we’ve made a lot of progress,” Robinson said. “When I first got here, we were tying not to lose by 30. Because of our players’ effort, we were in every game we played in the Pac-12 this year.
“These guys want to be NCAA Tournament guys. I don’t know with our record if we’d even be invited (to the CBI). But we are raising the bar, and we want to feel the sting of not playing in the postseason for the first time and see how that motivates us for next year.”
Joe Burton played in his 130th career game to tie Josh Tarver for most games played at Oregon State. The lone senior on the team was emotional in the locker room, as were the entire coaching staff and players.
“With regard to Joe Burton, I’m sure he’s emotional,” Robinson said. “We were all emotional. I was the main one emotional, this being his last game and Joe being my first real recruit here and helping sort of turning this program around. Joe has been a wonderful citizen of Corvallis. He’s been a wonderful representative of Oregon State. His philanthropic personality is infectious in the community, on the team, with his family. We are going to miss him. But the best part about Joe Burton is that he is a wonderful kid to coach, and he has matured in such a way that his family and his team and our school can be proud that we were a part of his development. But what he sort of evolved into is just the kind of person that you want out there representing your program and representing you when you’re not around.”
OSU Postgame Press Conference:
Oregon State senior forward Joe Burton: